Europe
Location
10 days
Duration

An important percentage of Greece’s national income comes from tourism. Tourism funds 16% of the gross domestic products which also includes the Tourism Council and the London-Based World Travel.According to Eurostat statistics, Greece welcomed over 19.5 million tourists in 2009, which is an increase from the 17.7 million tourists it welcomed in 2007.

The vast majority of visitors in Greece in 2007 came from the European continent, numbering 12.7 million, while the most visitors from a single nationality were those from the United Kingdom, (2.6 million), followed closely by those from Germany (2.3 million). In 2010, the most visited region of Greece was that of Central Macedonia, with 18% of the country’s total tourist flow (amounting to 3.6 million tourists), followed by Attica with 2.6 million and the Peloponnese with 1.8 million. Northern Greece is the country’s most-visited geographical region, with 6.5 million tourists, while Central Greece is second with 6.3 million.

In 2010, Lonely Planet ranked Greece’s northern and second-largest city of Thessaloniki as the world’s fifth-best party town worldwide, comparable to other cities such as Dubai and Montreal. In 2011, Santorini was voted as “The World’s Best Island” in Travel + Leisure. Its neighboring island Mykonos, came in fifth in the European category.

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION Athens International Airport
DEPARTURE TIME Please arrive at least 4 hour before the flight.
INCLUDED
Accommodations Sightseeing
Meal Professional guide
Local transportation
NOT INCLUDED
Entrance fees
Guide gratuity
1

Day 1

Athens has a remarkable atmosphere year round, cradled underneath the gaze of the Acropolis. Cobblestone streets wind around the Plaka, the oldest neighborhood of the city. Marble pillars continue to decorate the famous hilltop and the grounds below, from the mansions lining the ancient boulevards to the temples in the Roman quarter radiating both power and grace. When you arrive at the airport, your private transfer is waiting to greet you. Olive groves outside of the city fill the air with an herbaceous quality. The marble summit of Mount Pentelicus reflects the sunlight on your way into the old city. History and culture meet in marvelous fashion throughout Athens, from the blissful aromas of traditional confections drifting out of the bakeries to the allure of the Parthenon crowning the hilltop. You settle into your comfortable hotel situated in the heart of the city, offering a view to the continued splendor around you and the family.

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Day 2

 In the morning, the aroma of Greek pancakes and an omelet filled with graviera cheese accompanies the scent of creamy Greek coffee. At breakfast, the kids notice the view to the Parthenon crowning the Acropolis. The hills used to be the tallest point in the ancient city, standing 521 feet above the surrounding streets. Your Greece tour begins as your guide meets you at the hotel ready to take you through the majesty of the Panathenaic Stadium and upwards into the beauty of the Acropolis hills. Your guide is active and energetic. He tells the kids stories to keep them interested and attentive, filling in historical facts of the ruins to help inform you along the way. The cobbled streets turn into marbled walkways, pleated with thin steps leading to the top. You step through the Propylaea, lined with massive pillars, and finding the Parthenon exuding the images of classical Greece. The architect designed the temple to look the same size and height from all angles when seen from below. When seen up close the Parthenon’s columns have a slight tilt. The temple was completed in 432 BC, positioned with Doric columns. The kids marvel at the friezes decorating the metopes and pediments. The east pediment narrates the birth of Athena, springing forth from the head of her father, Zeus. Your guide emphasizes the mythology, captivating the children, and bringing your exploration of the Acropolis to a different, enthusiastic plain.
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Day 3

 In the morning, your spirits awaken with a taste of sweet and creamy Greek coffee. The kids indulge in a cheesy omelet before you set out on your adventure to Delphi. The cult site of Delphi stands on Mount Parnassus, overlooking the lush rolling mountains, and known in the ancient world as the sanctuary of Apollo. The aroma of olive groves fades behind the scent of pine trees. The rugged limestone summits frame the ancient city. Your guide leads you along the Sacred Way, the road from the gateway stretching 656 feet to the Temple of Apollo. Pillars and monument bases illuminate the wealth and vast reach of the city’s past. When you reach the temple of Apollo, the foundation remains, offering a stunning view to the mountains beyond the ancient site, framed by the enduring Doric columns erected in the 4th century BC. Your guide tells stories of the Pythia, the priestess of Delphi and the mouthpiece of the Oracle, who provided insight into politics and love, war and commerce as directed by the God, Apollo. The stories have been passed down for generations and continue to resonate with luster and exuberance.
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Day 4

 After breakfast, your private transfer escorts you to the airport for your flight to Santorini. The island is known for lavish views, delicious volcanic soil, and ties to the mythical city of Atlantis. From the plane window, you can see the sparkling azure waters of the Aegean Sea. After you land, the salty and sweet mixture of the air welcomes the family to the treasured island landscape. Your private transfer meets you at the airport and escorts you to a winery that offers plenty of family entertainment fun for both kids and adults.

The volcanic soil around the island has natural minerals that plants absorb, giving the produce around the island a richer, deeper flavor, including the wines. In a cave 20 feet below the earth’s surface, the winery has a wine museum featuring an animatronic donkey. The subterranean cavernous walls keep the air cool. A barrel of grapes is positioned inside the museum. Your guide leads the family to the barrel. The kids take off their shoes and with eager eyes, plop into the grapes, feeling the supple and juicy fruit squish between their toes. You sample the Assyrtiko to find an enticing smokiness and an earthy, lingering finish.

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Day 5

 You never thought your view could be better than looking out to the Acropolis in the morning and seeing the Parthenon; in Santorini you have found a better view. At breakfast, you can sip on fresh squeezed orange juice and look out to the stunning azure waters of the Aegean wrapping inside the caldera. Your transfer meets you at your hotel and leads you down to the marina where you board a boat chartered for the family’s enjoyment.

The wind blows through your hair leaving salt crystals in its wake. The aroma of the sea is intoxicating. The blue sweeps into the horizon. The sails capture the wind urging the boat forward. You pass the stunning display of colors from the Red Beach and the White Beach, known for the stones that border the gravelly shores. The landscape at the volcano’s rim turns rugged and lunar. Your guide leads you along the sparse, rustic gravel. The blacker the rock, the more recent the lava cooled, most notably from the 1950 eruption. The legends of the island’s genesis stem from the volcano the family explores, listening to the interconnected histories of the island, the caldera, and the summit. When you look back at Santorini, you can see the whitewashed houses and blue roofs glinting in the sunlight.

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Day 6

The sun rises over the horizon and spreads a staggering light across the Aegean. Your panorama at breakfast is nothing less than exquisite. After your meal, your guide meets you at the hotel and takes you to the archeological site of Akrotiri, known as the “Minoan Pompeii,” and also the possible location of Atlantis. Dating back approximately 1,600 years, the volcano underneath the island erupted, carving the current crescent shape of the landscape, but also covering the ancient city of Akrotiri in ash. The earthen aroma of the site is compelling.

The streets and houses are divided into organized grids. The kids marvel at the size and age of the city. Your guide explains the affluent nature of the thriving city and points out various frescoes decorating lavish homes. One such home has a wall painting of antelopes and blue monkeys climbing over rocks. A river runs beneath them. The vibrant hues have been preserved by the ash and archeological efforts. The landscape depicts similar volcanic rocks as to the scenery near Akrotiri. Today the family truly immerses itself in history. In the afternoon, you venture to the harbor where you meet the high-speed ferry heading to Crete.

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Day 7

In the morning, you have an unencumbered view of the coastline of Crete. An infinity pool looks like it touches the cobalt waters and reaches the horizon. You sip a Greek coffee at breakfast and let the day slowly begin. After your meal, your guide leads you to the marina where you board a private boat to the island of Spinalonga. The island is less than 22 acres and has been uninhabited since 1962. The Venetians constructed a fortress on the island in the 16th century, which was overtaken by the Ottomans in the 18th century.

The rugged landscape and cream-colored walls add a golden hue rising out of the Aegean Sea. You can see the entire island on a kayak tour, dipping your paddles into the water and feeling the refreshing temperature splash against your skin. The kids are eager to wade through the crystal sea. Your guide tells stories about the history of the island as you circumvent the fortress. You are learning, to your delight, that wherever you go in Greece, there is sure to be a historical story involved.

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Day 8

 Crete is the home of many mythological figures, from Icarus to the Minotaur. It is the largest of the Greek Isles encompassing 3,219 square miles of a mixture of rugged mountains, sapphire coastline, and pearled historic harbor cities. The legends of the island captivate visitors from all over the world, including you and your family.

The Palace of Knossos was home to King Minos, who had Daedalus design the labyrinth. Your guide leads the family on a private tour of the grounds where the cream colored stone outlines the palace’s varying degrees of complexity dating back to 1,900 BC. The palace is complex and flamboyant, decorated with lavish frescoes and painted pillars. The atmosphere of the grounds differ from the mythologies, radiating joy, and celebrations situated in the frescoes, and the architectural plans open up to the large courtyard. The Grand Staircase leads to the Royal Chambers. Ruby Minoan columns support the upper reaches of the building. In the queen’s chambers, a fresco of dolphins decorates the wall. The elaborate blue stands out against the textures of the underwater ambiance. Although the kids haven’t found the labyrinth, the allure of the palace remains.

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Day 9

 The olive groves of the island carpet the undulating hillsides of the interior, casting shade over the rugged landscape and filling the air with a savory aroma. After breakfast, the family heads into the hills for a full island immersion. The traditional villages of the region invite you and the family to experience the culture of the island, unique to Greece and the world. The rural heartland comes to life in the serene countryside. The air is brushed with barbecuing meats and vegetables. Musicians lounge in the shade and tune guitars. Men and boys continue to wear the traditional dress of breeches tucked into knee-length boots.

At lunch, your guide leads you into a cozy cafe where the owners welcome you like family. The aroma of savory cheeses and yogurt emanate from the kitchen. The chef of the restaurant becomes your guide for the moment, leading the family into the kitchen to learn how to make Greek cheese pie, otherwise known as Sfakianopita. The chef encourages the kids to have fun, get messy, use the flour and enjoy themselves because cooking is a measure of joy. When the cheese wrapped in filo dough hits the frying pan, the sizzle makes your mouth water. The kids eagerly wait. The chef takes the pie from the pan, drizzles it with honey, and the sweet and savory concoction melts in your mouth.

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Day 10

 In the morning, you wake up early enough to catch a final glimpse of the sunrise over the Aegean. At breakfast, the kids share stories about your time in Greece, talking about their favorite Greek myth, and whether they believe Akrotiri is truly the location of Atlantis. The sweet and savory flavors of the cheese pie linger in your thoughts; you have taken the recipe and plan on making it at home with the kids. You sip your final Greek coffee enjoying the view and the company.

Your private transfer meets you in the hotel lobby helping you make your way to the Heraklion International Airport for your flight home. The mythos and antiquity of Greece continue to inspire your family, creating and shaping the unique memories you’ve made on your vacation.

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